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First Priority Global Ministries is Launching Youth-Led Ministries with a Peer-to-Peer Evangelism and Discipleship Strategy in cities and communities around the Globe Empowering Youth to Reach their Generation and Generations to Come  

First Priority Global Purposes:  to present the Good News of Jesus Christ
to young people throughout the world 
to launch new youth-led ministry endeavors 
to raise up the next generation of gospel messengers that would further advance the kingdom of God in this world

Benny and Marilou Proffitt: First Priority Here and There

Even when people cannot see it, God is always working. He has plans and purposes far beyond the obvious. Over the past fifty years, when He entwined a bi-vocational youth pastor, a high school teacher, a basketball coach, and a growing family, He has revealed His mission.

Meet the Proffitts

The couple of His choice in this instance is Benny and Marilou Proffitt of Thompson Station, Tennessee. They have three married children and nine grandchildren. In 2023 they will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Knitted within those fifty years are multitudinous, world-wide endeavors.

Benny Proffitt grew up in a loving Christian family and modest home in East Tennessee. His father was a World War II veteran, and his mom ran a private kindergarten in their home. Marilou grew up in West Frankfort, a small Southern Illinois coal mining town. Her father was a local politician and business owner while her mother taught in a one-room school house and continued to teach in public school for 40 years. The Proffitts learned strong parenting principles from their parents who were married 59 and 68 years, respectively. Meeting at Belmont University, their relationship was directly based on their commitment to work in ministry and to find God’s will for their lives—an example of a budding Christian family committed to following Jesus and reaching youth with the Gospel. When Benny penned a book on parenting, Charting the Course, he wrote, “Parents must steer a course for their children that points directly at Christ.” 

At Belmont University where he was on a full basketball scholarship, Benny prepared to become a teacher. He sang in a contemporary Christian music group that traveled America, attended Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, and worked as a youth pastor, all of which prepared him to be a bi-vocational youth pastor, high school teacher, and coach for his sport, basketball, at the local Father Ryan High School and at Hendersonville High School. He served as youth pastor at Nashville’s White Bridge Road Baptist church and Judson Baptist Church. Before returning to Nashville, the couple had been in Texas where Marilou began her elementary school teaching career and their first of three babies was born. 

Breaking Up Unplowed Ground (Hosea 10:12)

Two experiences at high schools made a lasting impression on Proffitt’s life and became the seeds of First Priority. Benny had witnessed two separate student-led revivals where hundreds of students committed their lives to Christ. Knowing there was something else he needed to do with his life and being drawn to mentoring youth, Proffitt went through a three-year period of frustration and discouragement and disappointment and feelings of failure. He simply could not unite the churches to reach the youth, and the school was not an option at that time.

Proffitt had seen his own generation become consumed with self-indulgent living, sexual revolution, and the drug culture as it rejected America’s moral foundation. This new freedom excluded religious and moral restraints, and he saw the destruction of the family. His generation became self-absorbed with the divorce rate skyrocketing. 

In his high school teaching years, Proffitt experienced the declining role of generational historical Christianity. Sexual promiscuity, hopelessness, rebellion, violence, and suicide became epidemic among teens—now frequent family tragedies—along with moral apathy and spiritual complacency.

Amid this national tragedy, Proffitt cried out to God, “Show me what You want me to do or release me from this calling.” At that moment “God gave me the dream and the vision of First Priority to reach the next generation for Christ. This was the cry of my heart, my plea unto the Lord. How do we unite the churches in my city? How can we take the message of the Gospel to every student?” 

Proffitt needed a strategy to go with the vision. God does not call His people to a task that He does not equip them for. So it was with First Priority: “train and send the young people into their schools—their world—as the messengers of the Gospel to their peers: so simple yet so profound; so doable yet so difficult.”

In 1985, Proffitt launched First Priority in Irving, Texas. First Priority is “a strategy for training young people to live and share their faith in school.” In 1990 in Birmingham, Alabama, an entire city implemented the strategy. God used Benny’s decades of experience as a bi-vocational youth pastor, teacher, and coach to form a ministry that grew into First Priority of America ( The vision of First Priority is “The Hope of Christ in Every Student.” 

First Priority Ministries in Greater Nashville

The goal of the local leaders who launched First Priority Greater Nashville is to be in every school in every community in the Greater Nashville area. Its strategy unites the body of Christ around the schools in six counties that have over 140,000 teenaged students in public and private schools. Many Christian students here have been empowered to become missionaries, messengers, and ministers of the Gospel to their generation. Greater Nashville Schools—Davidson, Maury, Rutherford, Sumner, Wilson, and Williamson Counties—need your prayer, support, encouragement, finances, and personal involvement. (Visit Proffitt encourages all of Nashville’s churches, Christians leaders, and parents to get involved here locally.

In 1995, Proffitt began traveling across the USA to teach others how to organize First Priority groups in hundreds of other communities, becoming First Priority of America. First Priority will only come to places by invitation, usually by a pastor, a youth pastor, a parent, or even a student. Here in America, it is founded around the First Amendment of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. According to Proffitt, the government cannot establish a religion because of the establishment clause in our constitution. Volunteer, student-led initiatives are not government sponsored, so students can openly share their beliefs even at school. Over the next 15 years, Proffitt and the FPOA team traveled to all 50 states, speaking and training in over 1,000 USA cities. 

God’s Extended Appointment

In 1999, Proffitt led a group of 40 college students who traveled to all 50 states and 183 cities in their “What’s Up America Tour” with the goal of “Looking at America through the Eyes of Our Youth.” On April 20, 1999, they were driving toward Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, when they heard about shootings. Within two days Proffitt and his group were on campus to minister to and counsel with the students and community. That same year he met Rachel Joy Scott’s mother, Beth. They became steadfast friends, and Proffitt began working with Beth to share Rachel’s story. In 2009, Rachel’s mother asked Proffitt to help her make a movie about her daughter’s life and death. Even before the movie began filming, Rachel’s story had reached over 22 million people.

A movie was filmed here in Nashville, featuring this young girl who was massacred. Proffitt became the executive producer of the movie, I’m Not Ashamed. The film depicts the incredible true story of Rachel Joy Scott, a 17-year-old girl who was not ashamed to share her faith in Jesus—even to her killers—in the Columbine massacre of 1999. One year before the shooting, Rachel wrote in her journal, “I am not going to apologize for speaking the name of Jesus. I am not going to hide the light that God has put into me. If I have to sacrifice everything, I will.”  She did.

Rachel Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine shootings. She was outside the school counseling with a classmate whose parents were divorcing. According to her school reputation, Rachel, through the struggles of being a teenager and wanting to follow Jesus, became a devout Christian with a never-wavering desire to share about Jesus’s love with people. The shooters, who worshipped Hitler, approached her and her friend, and knowing that she was a Christian, challenged her to deny Christ and not be harmed. She stood firm in her belief and would not submit to their demand. She was executed on the spot, and the boy who was with her was shot nine times. He lived and when he awoke from a two-month coma, he shared with her mother what Rachel said and how she died. Because she was the first person shot and because of the impact of the Columbine shootings, her funeral was covered on CNN to its largest audience in history.

This astonishing story is clear spiritual insight into Rachel Scott’s extraordinarily transformed life. After Rachel’s death, Beth Scott discovered her daughter’s journals that expressed her faith, friendships, and challenges. Rachel had been keeping journals since the age of nine, and they were current until fifteen minutes before she died. These journals have been likened to the diaries of Anne Frank and helped to establish Rachel Joy Scott as the first teenage martyr in American history. Her life was about immovable, unwavering faith that touched millions. Her journals included the trials of her fellow students, and since her death, hundreds of schools have established anti-bullying programs. Proffitt affirms, “It was the perfect story of why we do First Priority.”

An addendum to her story comes through Scott’s mother who was moving the furniture in her daughter’s room. She found a drawing on the back of a dresser. Eight-year-old Rachel had traced both her hands and written, “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and someday they will touch millions of people’s lives.” Her last journal entry was a picture of two eyes that cried thirteen tear drops that turned into blood drops. Thirteen people were killed at Columbine.

As Rachel testified, we cannot be ashamed to speak the name of Jesus. God used First Priority Ministries to bring Jesus to the world through Rachel’s story and so many other students who have dedicated their lives to be a witness to their generation. Because of its powerful message, the movie helped build a new platform to tell the First Priority story, to expand it into countries around the world, and to engage more young people.

Global and Celestial

In 2010, First Priority Global Ministries was officially begun. Benny and Marilou left FPOA in trusted hands, and since then, they and the FPGM team have literally traveled around the globe many times sharing the vision and training, and launching First Priority in over 70 countries on five continents. First Priority Global has solidified global relationships and trained leaders in such countries as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, England, Greece, Ireland, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Cuba, Haiti, Peru, Columbia, Nicaragua, Spain, and many more. They are in most African and Asian countries and many European and South American countries. More countries contact them daily. Their goal is to be in every country in the world. Tens of thousands of youth are a part of First Priority serving the next generation in their countries. The First Priority children’s strategy, known as Jesus Said and whose focus is on first through fifth graders, has expanded in the USA and other nations. 

Proffitt summarizes, “This year begins my fortieth year since the Lord clearly gave me a vision for doing my part in reaching the next generation of young people through the First Priority Strategy—first in the USA and now around the globe. Everyday I’m on the phone with youth leaders from a country somewhere around the world asking us to come help. They are already committed to Jesus and to reaching the youth of their nation but are overwhelmed by Anti-Christian cultures, lack of resources, and discouragement. They are the boldest, most faithful, most amazing Christians I have ever worked with. They serve Jesus in the most challenging and difficult places in the world. They need our prayers, our encouragement, and our help.” 

“We at First Priority Global live everyday with the reality that over TWO BILLION young people on earth today have never heard the true story of Jesus.” Two questions linger: “Do you believe that every child deserves the opportunity to hear about Jesus in a meaningful way? If you do, what are you willing to do about it?”

After all, “Whoever wins the next generation, WINS.”

To learn more about First Priority Global, how to get involved, or to support financially, go to or contact First Priority Global Ministries at [email protected]

Sheila E. Moss: author of Living to Matter: Mothers, Singles, and the Weary and Broken; Interrupting Women: Ten Conversations with Jesus; and international publications derived from teaching Bible and Christian ethics in Africa, Ukraine, Venezuela, and England; teacher of Bible classes for 35+ years; mother of five adult children and grandmother of eleven grandchildren.

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1 Comment

  1. Very interested in the Nashville tnn
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